You're Invited!
Happy Thursday, everyone!

I won't be blogging next week, so I'd like to take this opportunity to invite you all to the Beyond Her Book anniversary bash. Barbara Vey is the hostess with the mostest, and she'll be coordinating the festivities as readers, writers, and publishers all get together to celebrate the anniversary of her book blog. It's a virtual party filled with lots of imagination, fun, and prizes. Why not check it out?

I will be there on Monday, bringing to the cemetery my favorite all-dead skeleton band--Wicked Trochee Spondee--to warble their best covers of the classics by Jimmi Hendrix and the Carpenters, among other notables. They've also been known to do Lady GaGa and Nat King Cole upon request, as well as jazz renditions of Tiny Tim and Justin Bieber. What can I say? They're multi-talented!

Also, my dragons will make an appearance at Downton Abbey on Friday to warm things up and remind people of my next reprint release. And to bring the pizza, of course! What's a party without dragons and pizza? A very boring meeting, that's what. lol

Did I mention I'm giving away two $10.00 gift certificates for Amazon.com as well? And I might drop by to offer a surprise prize during the week, like other contributors have done in the past.

The bash will last from March 4th through March 9th this year, with different genres celebrated each day at different virtual venues (including a cemetery, the Bates motel, the Algonquin Hotel, a Caribbean beach, and Downton Abbey). Readers can comment to put their names in for a variety of prizes, but the fun is really in the way the party plays out via the comments and Ms. Vey's wickedly delightful blog posts. If you'd like to see more about the party, click here for more information.

I can't wait for the bash this year, as virtual blog parties are few and far between. I don't have to drive or fly anywhere; I can just sit at home in my jammies and be around other people who love to do what I love to do--READ!

I hope you'll bop in next week to hang out with whoever shows up. It's going to be awesome, and I hope to see you there. :)

Happy Reading!
Drum Castle, Scotland, part 3: The Chapel and The Old Wood of Drum

The Chapel

A beautiful, little charming 16th century chapel sits to the south-west of Drum Castle. It is almost hidden in a copse of yews and hollies. The style of the chapel reflects the preference of the Irvine family for the Episcopal Church, dating back to their stubborn resistance to Presbyterianism, with its simple rites and places of worship, during the religious wars of the 17th century.



The chapel was restored during Victorian times, 1856, in memory of the six-year-old son of the 19th laird, who died in that year and is buried in the chapel.



 The font (above) is a copy of the Saxon font in Winchester Cathedral. (Some of the family attended Winchester public school.) Fonts are for non-immersion baptisms and usually sit just inside the entrance.

Stained glass window over the entry door.
A lot of weddings take place in this chapel. Workers were preparing for one and setting up for a reception outside on a big lawn while we were visiting.

The entry and font




 The chapel alter is made of sandstone. The Augsburg silver figure of the Virgin was brought here in 1897. The gorgeous stained glass window is by Hardman of Birmingham.

Entry door.

I found this little chapel, hidden in the trees, to be very inspiring. Look for one like it in my upcoming book. :)


Tree just outside chapel.

The Old Wood of Drum

The 117-acre Old Wood of Drum is the last remains of the once vast native forest called the Royal Forest of Drum. Its ancient origins and the rarity of the still standing oak woodlands led to its designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1983.


The earliest recorded reference to the Royal Forest of Drum was in a charter in 1247. During this time, the wood was enclosed as a royal park, a ditched and fenced enclosure that kept deer and wild boar in and people out. Those caught hunting animals or birds, harvesting timber or grazing animals within this boundary were punished with a heavy fine. In 1323, King Robert the Bruce bestowed the wood upon William de Irwyn, who became a Royal Forester, entrusted with its upkeep.



A fern growing on a tree limb.




A twisted and interesting sight.

An oak with a swollen base.
Timber from the forest was used in the various stages of building at Drum Castle. Some of the oaks in this forest date back to 1776. The tree trunks with massively swollen bases were damaged by grazing animals centuries ago.


one of the ponds
The trees in the wood include oak, Scots pine, birch, geans (wild cherries) etc. Many young trees have been planted too, grown from seed collected on the site. Exclosure fences keep roe deer out, which damage young trees. The forest has lots of wildlife and wildflowers, as well as two ponds.




I loved walking along these trails through nature. The leisurely, easy walk took about an hour or little longer. This wraps up our virtual visit to Drum Castle and estate. I hope you enjoyed it.
Thanks!

Vonda
Reader review from Amazon for My Fierce Highlander: "After reading this book, I'm a definite fan of Vonda Sinclair's! So consuming and made me stay up late one night to finish--yeah...only 3 hours of sleep that night! But it was worth it! A must-read for anyone who loves historical romance--especially with Highlanders!"~Julie
Fairytale Reboot - The Better to Eat You With
Every so often, I like to post a teaser from my backlist. With so many new takes on old fairy tales (anyone see Hansel & Gretel - Witch Hunters? Looking forward to Jack the Giant Slayer? Hooked on Once Upon a Time?)this twist on Little Red Riding Hood might be just what you're looking for.

Well, The Better to Eat You With, my little fairy tale romance has no action heroes, no violence, no evil queens or giants. It's a second chance at love romance, and I don't know about you, but I love those stories.



Blurb:

Did Red Riding Hood get the story wrong when she said her grandmother had been eaten by a wolf? When Nicholas Wolfe surprises Elise at her lonely house in the forest, she decides to use him for sex like he did with her before he left years ago. They didn’t want the same things from life back then, but Wolfe is back to convince Elise to give him another chance.



Excerpt:

“Well, now, isn’t this a sight for sore eyes?”

She froze as a smooth voice she’d not heard in many years washed over her skin like a cool rain. Nicholas Wolfe. Her eyes flew open and she saw his tall, broad, masculine figure silhouetted against the late morning sun. Where the hell had he come from? Then she realized that while she’d hidden herself from her neighbors, she was in clear view of the driveway. Shit, she hadn’t even heard him drive up.

His gaze burned into her, sweeping over her from head to toe. Of course, he didn’t have the decency to look away after catching her in such an awkward position. He still didn’t care about her feelings.

Her heart pounded, her cheeks burned. From embarrassment. From anger. From desire, dammit. She resisted the urge to snatch up the T-shirt to cover her naked breasts, to pull down the skirt to cover her drenched panties. It was too late for modesty now. Besides, she didn’t want him to know he could still affect her. Not after all this time.

She made herself sit up slowly, as if this was the natural way to meet an ex-lover. She shaded her eyes with her hand to get a better view. He still wore his dark hair long, still sported the hint of a beard even this early in the day. Elise remembered the way its roughness used to scrape against her skin when he kissed his way down her body. Why the hell did Nicholas Wolfe have to turn up when she was at her weakest?

He was still staring at her as though he hadn’t lost the right to see her like this a long time ago. But damn if her nipples didn’t prickle beneath his gaze. The fact that her body would betray her fueled her anger more than his arrogant ogling. But she had to make him think she didn’t care one way or the other. He meant nothing to her now.

Squaring her shoulders, she gathered the strength she would need to deal with this man. “Mr. Wolfe.” Her voice sounded tight. Her heart slammed against her ribs.

He took a step closer and she could almost see his eyes. Those dreamy, bedroom eyes that had seduced her every time. “You used to call me Nick.”

“Ha. I never called you Nick.”

Another step closer. “True. But you never called me Mister.”



If you'd like to read more about Elise and her Wolfe, The Better to Eat You With is still available for your enjoyment.

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
Romance By The Book

I’m a member of the Los Angeles Romance Authors chapter of RWA, and this year, instead of holding the usual contest as a chapter fundraiser, our members decided to try something different and – hopefully – unique.  

Eighteen published and unpublished members contributed twenty-two stories to an anthology called 5 Minute Love Stories, a collection of short stories exploring the many sides of love – love in the traditional sense as well as love in broader terms, love of family, love of a pet, etc. 

The idea behind it was that in our busy lives, sometimes we just need a few minutes to relax and escape the world. So we thought we’d invite you fall in love…5 minutes at a time.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
My story is called Romance By The Book, and it’s a definite departure from my usual sexy romances. It’s the sweet story of how one man discovers what women really want in a relationship, by reading romance novels the local librarian recommends. And – you guessed it – the two fall in love, literally, by the book J

What do you think of our chapter fundraiser idea? Is it fun/unique? Does it tempt you to buy the book and possibly discover a new favorite author? The anthology went up for sale just before Valentine’s Day on amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. I’ll let you know how it does!

Best,
Leigh
www.leighcourt.com
Welcome Spring-Sort Of...

So you're saying it isn't spring yet? That Punxsutawney Phil is off by a few weeks?
Nooooooo!
As you can see, I'm ready for spring. The flowers, the feel of love in the air, the idea of Spring Break for my kids, etc. So why does it have to keep snowing? Aargh!
I'm also ready for the releases of my latest reprints in March and April, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Are you ready for spring?
I know that sometimes spring brings the dreaded "spring cleaning," but it also brings relief from winter's dreariness.
My post will be short today, but it' s because I want to give you time to spend with your favorite books and to think about the beautiful season that lies just ahead.
What do you love about spring? Please do share. :)
Enjoy!
Downtime
Things have been a bit quiet on my front the last two weeks. Not that I'm complaining. I've needed some downtime, because I know things are about to get really busy again.

My next round of edits for Extreme Love should show up in my inbox at the beginning of next week. I can't believe I'm almost two months away from release. It's been such a long road with this novel. A very, long, winding, full-of-potholes road. It's been worth it. I'm proud of the book. Proud of myself for never giving up on it.

My first Covet releases on March 4th. Just a week and half away. I'm excited about this one as well. Seriously, though, what author isn't excited about a release of her book? LOL. Hopefully, I will have a cover to share soon. I can't wait to see what the art department came up with for this story.

I'm so very close to finishing the third book of my Covet series. I think I have about 18k more to write. I don't think those will be 18,000 easy words though. I have a lot of ends to tie up. A who-done-it to reveal. And a HEA to make sigh worthy. My goal is to have this completed and in my editors hands by the middle of March.

Then it's on to the third story of my fighting series. I've have been waiting for over a year, in which time I have written three other contracted books, to start Mac's story. I'm going to have a ton of research because of the heroine's job. A part of me is scared to death about this one. My editor was through-the-roof excited over the proposal, and I hope I'm able to give her the same excitement over the finished product.

So busy times ahead.
How does everyone schedule look?
Abby


Drum Castle, Scotland, Part 2 – The Tower
This is a continuation of last week's post about Drum Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.


The Tower at Drum Castle is one of the three oldest tower houses remaining in Scotland. The tower was completed in two building phases. The lower part of the tower was constructed early in the 1200s. And the upper portions in the late 1200s to early 1300s.


Lots of these spiral stone staircases in this tower and also lots of them in Scotland.

 What was originally the Common Hall, or the second level up from the ground, was turned into the library in the 1840s by the 18th laird with the entrance from the Jacobean portion of the house. When you enter the tower via a modern set of steps on the south side you will see a blocked doorway that used to lead to the Common Hall. The tower used to be entered from the ground via a ladder that could be pulled inside in the event of an attack. This made the castle much easier to defend. Click here to see the east side of the tower. The big window is a later addition and is in the current library.

 The bottom floor is the Store Room. The walls here are twelve feet thick and the windows are arrow slits. The well is down here too and it now drains to the exterior of the castle. This room was used mainly for storing food.
Arrow slit window in the store room.
The Upper Hall is above what used to be the Common Hall. This room is 35 feet by 21 feet and the ceiling has a beautiful pointed barrel arch. The walls are six feet thick. This portion of the tower was built during the second building phase. It also has a big open fireplace.


Fireplace and window alcove in the Upper Hall.
Originally this room was divided into two levels. The lower one, where the warm fireplace and window alcove was, for the laird’s private hall. I enjoyed sitting in this window alcove, looking at the wonderful view out over the grounds.

Window alcove with two benches. This is the window you see in the top photo.

A model of the Tower to see how it's set up. Click this photo to enlarge.


The darkened doorway is the garderobe.

A garderobe is built into one corner as an early form of a restroom. The drain drops 25 feet through the solid walls of the tower. 

Garderobe drain

Click the above photo to enlarge and read.

Here you can see more detail of the pointed barrel arch of the Upper Hall
  The upper floor that used to be in this room was reached by a wooden staircase. This was divided into two rooms by partitions for the family’s sleeping quarters. Access to the caphouse on the roof was also reached through here.


  The view from the battlements is spectacular. You can see the Forest of Drum and the surrounding countryside and farms in the distance.

Garderobe, privy on the roof for the guards of the past.
 In medieval times, the battlements was the 6th storey of the tower, where the roof is now. The castle guard would’ve stayed and perhaps lived in the caphouse. The stepped parapet walk is for drainage. The high battlement walls are designed with niches so the archers would have a good foothold when shooting attackers on the ground, close to the wall. This is considered a rare architectural features of Drum, along with the garderobe on the roof for the guards.

View of the Victorian addition from the tower's roof.

Some of the narrow stairs and ladders to get up to the roof are tough to navigate, but it is worth the climb.

Detail of conical roof with slate.

View over the Scottish countryside.
 This was one of my favorite days in Scotland. It was amazing being able to explore one of the three oldest tower houses left standing in Scotland.

Hope you enjoyed this little visit! Next time we will explore more of Drum Castle
Thanks!
Vonda
www.vondasinclair.com

I loved finding this reader review at Amazon: "My wild highlander exceeded my expectations. I laughed out loud several times. The romance is hot hot hot!!! I didn't want it to end." ~romance junkie
Tough Guys - Guest Blogger Em Petrova
Every romance reader wants a man who acts like a real man. No heroine or reader wants a wimp—a simpering man asking permission. We just want him to take, but in a nice way, while delivering a bad-boy, toe-curling smile. Right?

What if he broke his hand and shed a tear over it? Hells to the no! We want our male leads to be tough. I mean, they don’t have to grin with a Buick parked on their chests, but they need to talk the talk and walk the walk.

Cowboys and country boys fit this tough guy image pretty well. Ever see a farmer who is a weakling? A cowboy who can’t wrangle his cattle? A logger who fails to make a tree fall at his command?

These men live in my fantasies, which is why I write them. I also write what I know. Men in my life chop wood. They don’t hire anything done—from fixing sinks to grading their driveways. Also, a tough guy isn’t going to lie on his back in bed and let his gal do all of the work.

Nosirreeeee!

In my latest release HARD RIDIN’, Jens and Holden take control of any situation, especially when it comes to their ranch and to their girl Laurel. And yes, even when they are wearing their hearts on their western shirt sleeves. Read on for an excerpt from HARD RIDIN’.



Jens swung the hammer with all his might, driving the nail into the loose barn board. Frustration mounted in him. Laurel had been gone for hours. He burned to drive up to her place, but was terrified he’d find the house empty and a “Dear Jens” note on the kitchen counter.

Except there would be a “Dear Holden” note too.

“F***.” His muttered curse sent the free-range chicken near him skittering off. The head of his hammer drove into the nail again, and the spike buried into the wood sunk a fraction deeper than the surface.

Maybe Jens had been all wrong to suggest Laurel be with them both. Would she hate him for it? If he couldn’t even claim her as a friend anymore…

The hum of an engine made him jerk. He yanked his head out of the barn and peered toward the direction of the sound.

His heart in his throat, he glimpsed Laurel’s ATV chugging around the bend in the driveway. The hammer fell from his lax fingers and it struck the top of his boot. Pain ricocheted up his shin.

“Damn!” He hopped out into the open, ready to intercept her and beg her forgiveness. Ten apologies tumbled through his head. Stupid, never listen to a smitten cowboy, don’t blame you for walking out, go ahead and smack my face.

The cattle gate slammed shut and Holden appeared too. Across the yard, Jens met his gaze. Ire mixed with a sinking sensation. Here was where one of them knew victory or both lost. Because Jens was certain Laurel wasn’t going to jump at his suggestion.

He tightened his hands into fists and went out to meet her as she drew to a stop. She cut the engine and climbed off. He tugged off her helmet and hung it on the handlebars. “Thank you,” she said without looking at him.

Holden came forward too, and suddenly a solidarity rose up between him and Jens. They were fighting on the same side at the moment—fighting to keep her here and for a chance.

Laurel drifted away from them. The lines of her back were rigid, and her loose hair fell forward to conceal her face. Jens swallowed hard against the lump that formed in his throat. Two months together wasn’t long, but in his book, it was a commitment. He’d never wanted anyone this way, and judging by Holden’s pained expression, he hadn’t either.

It’s over.

Jens and Holden exchanged a look.

Finally Laurel faced them. She looked from Jens to Holden, her face shivering with some emotion Jens couldn’t understand.

“I’ve been thinking.”

Holden shifted from boot to boot.

“And… I’m not ready to give up either of you. I don’t want to stop seeing you, Jens. And Holden and I have had something from the start.”

Those words, “Holden and I have had something from the start” ripped through Jens and speared him with jealousy. Holden had her first and for longer. Did that mean he knew her better?

Jens sucked in a shaky breath. The cool air steadied him. “Yeah?”

Her gaze flashed to his, caught and held. In the depths of her dark eyes, he saw a secret glint that sparked just for him.

Heart thudding, he took a step toward her. As if mirroring Jens’s actions, Holden did the same. Not to be shown up? Or were they truly so alike?

Laurel looked down at her twisting hands. “Yeah, I’ve decided to…take you up on your offer. If you’re still willing.”

A stupid grin broke over Jens’s face. Relief flowed to his fingertips and numbed them. I’m more than willing.”

She returned his smile and that spark between them increased.

Clearing his throat, Holden gained her attention. “I can’t say I’m not relieved, Laurel.”

Nodding, she fixed him in her gaze and something passed between them too—a passionate flare that caused Jens to look away or be blinded.

“So now what?” Her whole body seemed to yearn for them. She leaned forward on her cowgirl boots, and her curves strained against her clothes.

Jens mentally tossed her into the nearby hay pile and stripped off everything she wore but her boots.

http://store.samhainpublishing.com/hard-ridin-p-7194.html

Thank for reading, and a big thank you to Natasha, for hosting me today!

Em Petrova
~where words mean so much more~
www.empetrova.com
A little fun with the EC crew
Last weekend, I decided to initiate my (adult) daughters into the wonderful world of Ellora's Cave. The Cavemen were putting on a show in Davenport, Iowa, so we loaded up our stuff and drove the two hours from Chicago to the Illinois/Iowa border.

What a blast we had!

These guys are so sweet, and yes, so HOT! But they are complete gentlemen.



With my daughters and the guys after the show.

With EC's Lisa Gray and Brittany Miles.

With Justin Alan Whitfield, author of Take it Off!

EC's 2012 Alpha Caveman winner, Nick Soto.

The entire gang together, with the addition of Taylor Cole on the left.

Me and my gorgeous daughters!
Needless to say, with this little taste of EC, my daughters are now wanting to attend Romanticon this year. Registration is now open -- don't miss this awesome conference!

Kristin
www.kristindaniels.com
www.facebook.com/authorkristindaniels
http://twitter.com/Kristin_Daniels
Happy Valentine's Day...Kind Of
Happy Valentine's Day!

I love Valentine's Day and have ever since I was a kid. Even when I wasn't in a relationship, I got into the loving spirit. My family and I enjoyed sharing Valentine's candy (a sweet addiction!) and one of my earliest memories is of my mother and me making Valentines out of paper doilies for the rest of the family. It can be such a lovely holiday, and this year I want to share it with you. :)

In honor of Valentine's Day, my erotic short story, The Snow Job (description below), is now available on for $.99. I will leave it up all weekend to celebrate. It's available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Description: Working undercover, Para Marshall Marina Fareeky thinks her sham wedding day will end with her arresting the groom and most of the wedding guests, which would be a career coup. Just as she’s ready to walk down the aisle, a minion from the Para Marshall’s Office shows up and informs her a treaty with the vampyre clan means there’ll be no raid and no way to avoid her nuptials without exposing herself as a para marshall in a room full of the world's most dangerous paranormal criminals. Aleksi Nicholas, eldest son of the Nicholas vampyre clan, watches his reluctant bride shuffle toward him. He’s waited long enough, and now he intends to claim the heart of the woman who’d rather arrest him than bed him.
In Mourning...
This weekend the laptop I have been using for almost five years died :( I knew it was coming. Over the last couple of months, I would be typing along and the screen would just go black on me. After losing over an hour of work the first time it happened,  I learned very quickly to back-up everything. Saving every few minutes and not relying on auto-save  When I was done for the day, I'd download the new version to Dropbox (we'll get to my duh moment in just a second)

The unknown of when my computer would decide to quit on me was frustrating, but at least it still worked. I'd usually be able to get it back up and running without too much hassle.

Saturday, it did again. I didn't panic, thinking I would be able to get it running again within the hour. Yeah, no. Thirteen hours later, I was still trying to get Windows to load. I'd pretty much given up when it finally came on. I was so happy, and immediately got busy, only for it to go black on me within five minutes of starting. It booted right back up. Then went black. Over and over again. I couldn't get it to stay on and I finally had to accept the fact it was done.

I didn't realize how attached I was to the machine until I no longer had it. I don't have the money to just go out and buy a new one, so I've been switching back and forth between using my son's laptop and my roommates. And using them is so different. Just feels wrong.

I love my computer. Yeah, it's old. Runs really slow. But I know it. It's familiar. It's a part of me.

My son's keyboard is smaller, my roommates larger. Both make typing difficult. My fingers could fly over mine. I didn't have to worry about missing a key. But on these. Sigh. I can't seem to type a word correctly. Constant backspace, backspace, backspace. Yesterday I accidentally and unknowingly hit the "Insert" button. Every time I'd write something, it would erase anything in its way. Shouldn't have been a big deal, right? It's not like I haven't hit that button before. But I knew where my "Insert" button was. It took me fifteen minutes of cussing and wondering what in the heck I'd hit, to finally locate that stupid button on her keyboard.

On top of that, neither one of them have Word. I've used Word since I started writing. I know it like the back of my hand. I, unfortunately, have no idea where I put my CD, so I've been forced to use Open Office. It's just different enough from Word that I hate it. I had to look up how to put in a dang em-dash because the way I did it in Word didn't work. And leaving comments in critiques? Why do I have to jump through hoops to do so? All the tools are located in different places, and I have to search for them. It's dumb really.

Now on to the only good thing that has happened from my computer crash.

Dropbox.

Guys. Seriously. I felt so stupid when I realized this. I've been using Dropbox to back-up my stuff for about two years now. I had no idea I could open the document directly from Dropbox and work in it and it would automatically save my changes. I know...duh. I'd been opening my WIP from my desktop and after I was finished for the day, I'd close it and then copy it and save it over the existing copy in Dropbox. This discovery has been awesome. And I love it.

Anyway, enough of my ranting. I needed to get that off my chest. I know it will take some adjustment and I was going to need to buy a new computer eventually. I just wasn't ready. I miss my ratty, old computer.

Abby

Drum Castle, Scotland

 While staying in Stonehaven, Scotland, we visited Drum Castle in Aberdeenshire. This castle is a combination of a medieval tower, a Jacobean mansion house and a Victorian extension. For seven centuries it was home to twenty-four generations of one family, the Irvines.


While waiting for the castle to open, we explored some of the gardens and I enjoyed experimenting with taking photos of flowers in the morning sunlight.






Drum is named from the Gaelic Drom or Druim, meaning a ridge or knoll. The tower, on the east, is the oldest part of this castle and is believed to have been built in the mid to late 1200s, perhaps as a stronghold for Alexander III who died in 1286. King Robert the Bruce brought the Irvine family to Drum. The king appointed William de Irwyn as one of his representatives in the Royal Forest of Drum, an extensive hunting reserve where kings of Scotland hunted deer and wild boar.


View of the castle from the west. The Jacobean portion is to the right.

 In 1323 William de Irwyn was granted the charter of the Barony of Drum giving him power ‘of pit and gallows’ to drown or hang local wrongdoers. Also the Tower of Drum was given to him.


 A few years later a feud arose between the Irwyns/Irvines and their neighbors, the Keiths, hereditary Marshals of Scotland. The legend says that the Keiths burned one of the Irvine children to death in the fields. The Irvines took revenge by burning down Halforest Castle, stronghold of the Keiths. Later, a battle took place at Keiths’ Muir, near the River Dee, and several Keiths drowned at a place called Keiths’ Pot.

The Tower, the oldest part of Drum
Most of the Irvine lairds were named Alexander. One of these Alexanders, the fourth (or IVA because there were two 4th lairds, brothers) laird, and his brother were involved in the Battle of Red Harlaw, in 1411, in which Donald MacDonald, Lord of the Isles, and his large army challenged royal authority. The Lord of the Isles destroyed Inverness, then headed toward Aberdeen to do the same. The Earl of Mar, the Steward General, was in charge of defending the city with a small local force. Sir Alexander Irvine was one of his prominent officers.

Part of the 19th century addition designed by David Bryce. This runs behind the original 17th century Jacobean Wing to provide corridors, privacy, and easier movement through the house. It also created an entrance hall at courtyard level.
The Battle of Red Harlaw took place twenty miles north of Drum Castle and is considered one of Scotland’s bloodiest acts of civil war. Maclean of Duart, Red Hector of the Battles, was one of the prominent chiefs under MacDonald, Lord of the Isles. He and Sir Alexander Irvine came into conflict during the battle, a single combat in which neither would relent. They both died fighting each other. His brother Robert Irvine survived the battle, changed his name to Alexander, becoming another forth laird of Drum, or IVB. He married a daughter of the Keiths, Elizabeth, and ended the feud. He is believed to have exchanged swords with Red Hector’s son (Maclean), a symbolic act of peace between their families/clans. I found this especially fascinating because I visited both Drum Castle and Duart Castle on Isle of Mull (stronghold of the Macleans) during this trip.

The courtyard
The ninth Irvine laird, Alexander, was nicknamed “Little Breeches” because he took up the Continental fashion of wearing short trousers. He had the Jacobean mansion portion of Drum built in 1619. He was also sheriff of Aberdeen. He and his wife were philanthropists and were rich enough to lend money to King James VI. I didn't get a good photo of the whole southern, Jacobean mansion portion because people were setting up for a wedding, but you can see it by clicking here.


The eighteenth laird, Alexander, is said to have been Master of Drum for eighty-three years, and lived to be 91. His son, Hugh Irvine, painted the Archangel Gabriel painting which hangs in the library. It is supposedly a self-portrait. Click here to see a pic of the library and painting.


 The Irvine coat-of-arms with holly leaves, savage supporters wreathed round the head and loins with holly and carrying clubs.


The above Victorian archway faces the north drive and adjoins the former 16th century brewhouse. This building also contained the laundry and woman house (a traditional Scottish service room where household linen was spun and woven by women.) Two Buchan cheese presses stand in front of what was once the dairy (left in the above photo.)


No photos were allowed inside the Jacobean and Victorian parts of the castle. It is elegantly furnished with lots of beautiful antique furniture, artwork, china, etc.


 A massive rope moulding carved from local granite decorates the front door.

The beautiful double entrance doors.
I hope you enjoyed this visit to part of Drum Castle. Next time we'll tour the Tower, one of my favorite parts!
Thanks!
Vonda
www.vondasinclair.com

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